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9 Jan 2008 : Column 630W—continued


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Electronic Property Information Mapping Service holds historic property data over time. [176437]

Angela Eagle: The Electronic Property Information Mapping Service holds data for each financial year from 2004-05.

HM Revenue and Customs: Delivery Services

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many items placed with mail carriers for delivery by HM Revenue and Customs in the last 12 months did not reach their intended destination. [169863]


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Jane Kennedy: The information requested is not available.

HM Revenue and Customs: Security

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) of 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 905W, on HM Revenue and Customs: security, if he will disaggregate the 2,111 reported breaches of security recorded between HM Revenue and Customs’ various offices. [169776]

Jane Kennedy: It would be inappropriate to disaggregate the information to the level of individual named offices. To do so could potentially impact on security at the individual offices.

International Monetary Fund: Gold and Foreign Exchange Reserves

James Duddridge: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what discussions the Government have had on the sale of gold by the International Monetary Fund; [176928]

(2) what representations the Government have received on the sale of gold by the International Monetary Fund. [176929]

Angela Eagle: Following the publication of the report of the Committee to Study Long Term Financing of the IMF in January 2007, which made a number of recommendations on the IMF's income model, including on gold sales, we expect the new IMF managing director, Dominique Straus-Kahn, to make a comprehensive proposal on IMF income and expenditure to the executive board ahead of the IMF spring meeting in April. Any proposed gold sales would require a 85 per cent. vote in favour by the members of the IMF. The UK Government believe that any sales of gold should take place in an orderly way, phased overtime, and within the bounds set by official sellers of gold in recent years so as to avoid disruption to the gold market.

Lyons Inquiry

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department will produce a formal response to the Lyons Inquiry on local government. [176386]

Angela Eagle: Treasury will not be issuing a formal response to the Lyons inquiry. Sir Michael Lyons report set out a wide-ranging analysis of local government and local government finance and many of his recommendations have, and will continue to, inform the ongoing development of Government policy.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland on his Department’s consideration of preferential rates of fuel duty in rural and remote areas. [177117]

Angela Eagle: I have replied to the hon. Member.


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Minimum Wage

Jon Trickett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many London-based staff are employed by his Department on the national minimum wage. [175969]

Angela Eagle: All Treasury staff based in London are paid above the national minimum wage.

Mortgages: Interest Rates

Mr. Betts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the housing finance review will consider taxation barriers to the development of products that give interest rate protection; [175957]

(2) whether the Government plans to act on the recommendation of the Miles Report on the treatment of stand alone interest rate insurance as insurance for tax purposes; [175958]

(3) if the Government will take steps to consult industry on taxation barriers to the development of products that give interest rate protection, as stated in the Housing Green Paper. [175963]

Angela Eagle: A response to the Miles recommendation on the treatment of stand-alone interest rate insurance was given in Budget 2005 stating the Government stood ready to engage with firms considering entering the market. This is still the position and we welcome discussions with such firms.

The Housing Finance Review is also considering any remaining barriers to the efficient supply of mortgage finance. This includes investigating innovative financial products which help borrowers manage their housing-related risks. The review team remain engaged with the industry and will take into account their comments when making recommendations. The review will report its findings at Budget 2008.

Non-domestic Rates: Empty Property

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the (a) mean and (b) median change in business rates per empty property in the first full year of operation of the reduced levels of business rate tax relief for empty properties. [176392]

Jane Kennedy: No estimates are available.

Non-domestic Rates: Valuation

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place the Valuation Office Agency’s Ratings Cost Guide in the Library. [176393]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 1145W.

Northern Ireland: Fuel Laundering

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many fuel laundering plants have been closed by HM Revenue and Customs and the police in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months; and how many arrests have been made in respect of these actions. [175929]


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Jane Kennedy: In Northern Ireland, in the period January 2007 to date, a total of eight laundering plants have been dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs and five arrests were made in relation to these operations. HM Revenue and Customs are solely responsible for dealing with fuel laundering plants, and any that are initially detected by the Police Service Northern Ireland are immediately referred to HMRC for action.

Office of Government Commerce

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the guidance note produced by the Office of Government Commerce on social issues in purchasing. [176447]

Angela Eagle: A copy of the information requested has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what procurement guidance the Office of Government Commerce has produced for local authorities, on the purchase of receptacles for the collection of household rubbish. [176449]

Angela Eagle: The Office of Government Commerce has not produced specific guidance for local authorities on the purchase of receptacles for the collection of household rubbish.

Offshore Industry: North Sea

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research his Department has carried out into the long-term economic impact on the UK of the reduction of oil and gas supplies from the North Sea. [173877]

Angela Eagle: The UK still has significant oil and gas resources. While some 37 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) have been produced to date, estimates of the hydrocarbons remaining to be produced from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) range from 16 to 25 billion boe(1). As set out most recently in “Securing a sustainable future: a consultation on the North Sea Fiscal Regime”, the Government are committed to maximising the economic recovery of hydrocarbons from the UK Continental Shelf.

Planning Gain Supplement

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much (a) his Department, (b) the Valuation Office Agency and (c) HM Revenue and Customs has spent on research, consultancy and preparation costs for the Planning Gain Supplement. [176433]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs, and Communities and Local Government have undertaken preliminary work to develop and explore the feasibility of a Planning-gain Supplement since 2004. This has included the publication of one consultation document alongside the 2005 pre-Budget report and three consultation documents alongside the
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2006 pre-Budget report. The costs incurred have been borne by the respective Departments as part of the normal policy development process.

Private Finance Initiative: Expenditure

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much public expenditure he estimates there will be as a result of private finance initiative programmes (a) in place and (b) planned in each year from 2008 to 2060. [176994]

Angela Eagle: The future profile of estimated unitary charge payments for signed PFI projects is published alongside each Budget and pre-Budget report. At PBR/CSR 2007 this projection was printed at Table 19 of PBR/CSR 2007: the economy and public finances—supplementary charts and tables. This document is available from the Treasury website at:

This covers projects up to 2032-33; it is not possible to predict the payments for future projects, which have not yet been signed, as the value of the unitary charge payments is subject to negotiation during the procurement process.

Revenue and Customs: Data Protection

Mr. Evans: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer of how many UK citizens participating in witness protection programmes the data was on the two discs lost by HM Revenue and Customs. [172833]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 11 December 2007]: It is not normal practice to comment on security matters relating to UK citizens participating in witness protection programmes.

Valuation Office

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings the Valuation Office Agency has had with (a) the Valuation and Lands Agency (including its new successor agency), (b) the Scottish Assessor’s Association and (c) the Irish Republic’s Valuation Office, in the last 12 months; and on what dates. [176412]

Jane Kennedy: Representatives of the Valuation Office Agency and of the organisations listed meet regularly to discuss valuation issues and practices common to the public sector, inter alia in the light of evolving case law.

Valuation Office: Data Protection

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of (a) the Valuation Office Agency’s and (b) HM Revenue and Customs’ internal staff handbook or guidance on data security. [176401]

Jane Kennedy: It is not appropriate to put documents detailing the precise internal security arrangements of specific Government Departments or Agencies into the public domain.


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Valuation Office: Pay

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value was of bonuses paid to staff by the Valuation Office Agency in each of the last five years; and how many payments were made in each year. [176387]

Jane Kennedy: The number of staff awarded bonuses by the Valuation Office Agency and the aggregate value of the payments made in each of the last five years is listed as follows.

Number of staff receiving bonus payments Total value of payments (£)

2003

253

287,289

2004

282

321,486

2005

0

0

2006

0

0

2007

472

225,564


For 2005 and 2006 it introduced a recognition payments voucher scheme to recognise any instance of special effort or performance—over and above the normal day-to-day expectations for a person’s role: such payments could be made at any time and were not linked to the pay system.

Valuation Office: Secondment

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff have been seconded to the Valuation Office Agency in the last 12 months; from which outside bodies; and what the length is of each secondment. [176434]

Jane Kennedy: Two staff have been seconded to the VOA in the last 12 months:

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff have been seconded to the Valuation Office Agency from outside central Government in the last 36 months; from which outside bodies; and for what period of time. [176444]

Jane Kennedy: Five staff have been seconded to the Valuation Office Agency from outside central Government in the last 36 months.

Three staff from the Australian Valuation Office (two for six months each and one for five months).

Two staff from the Hong Kong Rating and Valuation Department for six months each.

Valuation Office: Training

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agency’s (a) eLearning dwelling house coding module and (b) Quick Guide to DWH Coding. [176403]

Jane Kennedy: A copy of (a) the e-learning dwelling house coding module will be placed in the Library of
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the House. The (b) Quick Guide to dwelling house coding is available on the Valuation Office Agency website at:


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